Tuesday, 10 September 2013

"THE BATTLE OF THE BIBLE"

The battle of the Bible should inspire a lively interest in every Christian bosom. If they lost the Bible they lost everything, and their eternal happiness was concerned in retaining it intact The Bible alone gave them the great fundamental principles of Christianity, and its influence for good was felt everywhere. In all ages and in all countries, however, attempts had been made to render it abortive. The spirit of the age—the spirit of rationalism and infidelity—was opposed to its authority, and the sovereignty of the Great God himself as the author of the Bible was openly disputed and denied. The best and noblest production in the field of literature was the Bible, for it taught them how to live, and prepared them for eternity. This precious Volume, hitherto treated as a national birth right, was now exposed to the most daring attacks from its enemies. What, then, was their duty, and what should they do under those alarming circumstances ? Should they stand idly by and see the Bible thrown down and trampled underfoot; or should they come forward and join the ranks of its defenders. (Applause.) The battle of the Bible had been often fought and often won, but it must be fought over and over again, for as long as sin was in the world that warfare would never cease. Hence the value and importance of the present lecture —for it would stir up their languid zeal, and their dormant courage on behalf of the Bible. All honor to the man who, without regard to friend or foe—to those who were with him or against him— was loyal to the truth, and stood forward on the battle-field for the protection of the Bible, which they honored. (Applause) He then called upon The Rev. Isaac New, who on rising was received with applause.
 Starting with the assertion that the Bible was God's book, and referring in eloquent terms to the efforts which had been made to gain an intelligent and well-grounded belief, in the precepts it taught, be admitted there seemed to be some anomalies and mysteries in the Bible ; but so also were there in God's book of nature. He paid a free tribute to the transcendant value and importance of the Bible to all classes of men, and to every circumstance of life, and to the manifestations of its mighty power. It was felt in their Courts of Jurisdiction, and in their halls of legislation. Their literature was sanctified by it, poetry was enriched by it, and history would be incomplete without it All Christendom was infinitely indebted for it, and tens of thousands had bound it round their necks as ornaments, and had pressed it to their hearts as their most sacred inheritance. They would not surrender it for the price of many rubies, and rather than part with it they would part with life itself. The rev. gentleman then proceeded to speak of the morality, the benevolence, the humanity, the revelations, and the authoritative certainty of the Bible, and said it had stood every test, from whatever source they had come, and it had emerged from the furnace all the brighter, because of the severity of the fire to which it had been exposed. He then passed on to speak of the fate of the Bible. Instead of so excellent and precious a book being cordially welcomed in all hearts and families, it had been opposed by a determination which nothing seemed able to subdue, but the secret he supposed laid just here—the good man loved it, but the bad man hated it.
 He said his object was to briefly sketch the history of the conflict in which the Bible had been involved, and to refer more especially to recent attacks made upon it. Referring to the time when Christianity was first established, and its professed followers were the subjects of sneers and scorn, he passed on to speak of the period when the rapid strides it made, rendered it an object of suspicion—a suspicion which deepened into malignant hatred. Celsus led the attack, and his object was similar to that of modern infidels—viz., to impeach the veracity of the Bible. He then alluded to the attacks of Porphyry who followed Celsus, and to the assaults made upon it by those who were expected to be its heroic defenders. The elements of infidelity spread, and after the days of Constantine the Church, from being a spiritual, became a political corporation. He alluded to the heresies which sprang up, the controversies which took place, and the practices which were resorted to to prevent the influence of the Bible spreading. He glanced at the speculative philosophy of the Middle Ages, which was followed by a scepticism which denied everything, and a mysticism with its intuitional light, spiritual illuminations, and rapt contemplation of God. He next passed on to the time of the Reformation, when Luther with a Grant's might attacked the citadel where the Bible was imprisoned. Then the Bible emerged as by a resurrection with the power of an endless life, to reassert its peerless authority and rights. He passed on to consider the fierce assaults Roman Catholicism had made upon the Bible in the various countries of Europe, and then advanced to a consideration of the contest, in which the friends of the Bible had been involved from the assaults of infidelity. He characterised infidelity as the denial of the Bible, as a revelation from God, and consequently a denial of any claim to religious reverence and faith. Sometimes infidelity came in a courteous spirit; sometimes by hints, insinuations, and questionings; sometimes in the spirit of supercilious concert, and sometimes associated with the ravings of blasphemy. He referred to the rise of infidelity, which arose in the reign of Charles I. in England, and to the progress of that infidelity in succeeding reigns—mentioning the names of Lord Herbert Blount, Toland, Shaftesbury, Collins, Woolston, Tindal, Morgan, Chubb, Bolingbroke, Hume, and Gibbon, as amongst those who led on the assaults against the Bible.  
Passing over to France, he spoke of Voltaire, D'Alembert, Rousseau, Helvetius, the notorious Tom Paine, and others, as conducting the assaults against Christianity in that country. He next spoke of Germany, where there was an infidelity whose name was legion—an infidelity, which to describe it in one word, was called Rationalism. By this word it was meant that reason was the test of truth—independently of all external authority, whether human or divine; and therefore, when referred to the Bible, it meant that all which was not in harmony with reason must be rejected. This Rationalism swept away the incarnation, the divinity, the mighty works, the vicarious death, the resurrection, the ascension of Christ, the gift of the Spirit, and the Revelations of the Apostles. But Rationalism had had its day in Germany, but, singular to say, whilst the fire was dying out in Germany, it was breaking out afresh in Christian England. It had made its appearance in the Church and in the seats of learning in England, and a strong warfare was waged by such men as Coleridge, Bunsen, Troupe, Newman, Grey, Mackay, Carlyle, Kingsley, Maurice, and others, and at last by the valiant Bishop Colenso, whose flimsy attack had set England in an uproar. The battle was still raging against the Bible with a bitterness and malignity truly diabolical. Paganism, Popery, philosophy, science, historical criticism, poetry, learning, as well as blasphemy, licentiousness, and impiety, were all assailing it, and seeking to rob it of its true and proper authority. They had attacked the inspiration, the divine authority, the facts, the prophecies, the miracles, and the mysteries of the Bible. No part of the book had been left unassailed. They were enraged against it. They seemed as if determined that the Bible should have no existence in the world. Infatuated and cruel men! They would quench the hopes of millions. They would bereave them of the only light which was leading them to Heaven. They would seal up the fountain of living waters at which the fainting pilgrims to eternity have ever been refreshed. They would deprive them of the richest consolation which a generous Father had provided for his troubled and sorrowing children. They would rob them of the testimony of Jesus, the testimony of the Spirit, and the testimony of the Apostles to those great facts in which they bad redemption and eternal light. They would undermine the foundations of that Temple of Truth, in which they and their fathers had worshipped with a hallowed joy, and would reduce it to a dilapidated and mighty ruin. But they could not. They had been trying along the course of ages; but the Bible still lived, for the God of the Bible still lived, and His word endureth through all generations.
There was one irrefragable argument which was enough for him, as for millions of others, and that was—did Christ rise from the dead? If not, all history was a lie; but if he did rise, his resurrection accredited his miracles, his miracles accredited his divine mission, and his divine mission accredited the infallible truthfulness of his teachings. If his teachings were infallible and divine, they gave a guarantee of the inspirations of the writings of the Apostles, and he was sure they would rather take their stand under the protecting shade of Christ and his Apostles than they would sit at the feet of that icy mathematician Bishop Colenso, or of the pretentious authors of the notorious Essays and Reviews. (Applause.) Thus the resurrection of Christ was the towering rock in the midst of the ocean of doubt, on which truth was built, and against which the tumultuating billows might dash in vain (Cheers.) The Bible had triumphed over Paganism, Popery, the infidelity of the Middle Ages, and over Rationalism in Germany, and it would most assuredly conquer the existing rationalism in England. The Bible had triumphed. It had conquered prejudices and silenced opponents. It had won its way into the unsophisticated mind of England. It had enthroned itself in the hearts of millions. It was vindicated in 10,000 pulpits with an argument and an eloquence tending to reinforce its claims. It was reverenced in the cottages of the poor, in the homes of the middle classes, and in the mansions of the great and good. There was a conviction that the Bible was the hope of the world, and Bishop Colenso, in trying to uproot that conviction, might as well, in arrogant pride, bid back the tidal waves of the sea. The rev. gentleman concluded by an eloquent peroration as to the blessings which the Bible would ultimately confer on the whole world, when the reign of peace and goodwill on earth should be consummated, when superstition and idolatry should be dispelled by the influence of the Bible, when its blessings should be scattered on the poor, its benediction distributed upon the wretched, and its consolations poured into the hearts of the crushed and sorrowful. . . .

The South Australian Advertiser 25 April 1866

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